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AA takes over VisitEngland Quality Assessment Scheme
The AA has been awarded a contract to run the VisitEngland Quality Assessment Scheme under licence for the next three years.
The VisitEngland scheme will remain separate to the AA’s existing assessment schemes. Participants will be able to choose between the two systems and VisitEngland state: “All current ratings, logos, marques and accolades remain unchanged and there will be no discernible change for participants.”
VisitEngland Chief Executive Sally Balcombe said: “I am delighted to announce this contract which guarantees the standards and expectations our scheme participants have come to expect whilst maintaining continuity of service and also matching our ambitions to develop the schemes further and add value.”
The AA’s Head of Hotel Services, Andrew Oxley said: “Being awarded the licence to run the VisitEngland schemes is the start of an exciting new chapter in our history. For the last 20 years we have worked together closely in developing the common standards, and we now look forward to supporting VisitEngland’s aims of helping a wide range of tourism businesses grow in quality and profitability.”
Late Easter sees sales fall
The late Easter holiday saw UK restaurants and pub sales fall back 0.5 percent in March, according to latest figures from the Coffer Peach Business Tracker.
Restaurant chains recorded collective like-for-like sales down 1.4 percent in March, with trading in managed pubs flat compared with the same month last year.
Peter Martin, vice president of CGA Peach, the business insight consultancy, said: “Easter can usually be relied on to provide a significant boost to the eating and drinking out market, but with it falling in April this year, a month later than last time, it has skewed March trading figures. But with only a 0.5 percent decrease overall, operators will be hoping for an extra uplift when April numbers appear.”
“With or without Easter, London saw strong trading during the month, with a 2.9 percent like-for-like increase across the market, driven in particular by robust sales in pubs and bars. The capital showed no immediate or obvious reaction to the Westminster terror attack either. However, outside the M25 like-for-likes dropped 1.7 percent in March.”
“With growing cost pressures on the sector from business rates, food price inflation and wage increases, the fact that consumer spending on out-of-home food and drink appears at least to be holding up will be some relief for operators” he added.
“For operators, Easter is now a close second to Christmas as a benchmark period,” said Paul Newman, head of leisure and hospitality at RSM, the accountancy and business advisory firm.
“An early Easter last year makes these figures tricky to assess although a 0.5 percent like-for-like decrease will be seen positively by many. This is especially good news when compared to the larger fall in overall retail sales for the same period. The trend towards experiences continues, with consumers increasing spend on eating and drinking out over ownership of shop-bought products.”
St. Austell lager sponsors Pro Surf Tour
St. Austell Brewery’s Korev lager is continuing its partnership with Britain’s national surfing event, becoming the key sponsor of the 2017 UK Pro Surf Tour.
Korev will be the official beer of the Tour, supporting UK-wide events for the best of UK surfing talent across 2017, with the season kicking off at Watergate Bay in May.
Jeremy Mitchell, Marketing and Communications Director at St Austell Brewery, said: “We are delighted to be continuing our partnership with the Tour. We were involved in and witnessed some superb events last year that were such a fantastic advertisement for British surfing.”
Korev – the traditional Cornish word for beer – launched in summer 2010 in a 500ml bottle, and on draught in 2011, and has become one of the brewery’s leading brands.
Arkell’s get Cask Marque full house
Swindon brewery Arkell’s have achieved 100% Cask Marque accreditation for all its 94 pubs across Wiltshire, Oxfordshire, Gloucestershire, Berkshire and Hampshire.
The Cask Marque scheme has been running since 1997, ensuring that cask ale in pubs is served in perfect condition. Pubs that join the scheme are visited unannounced by an independent assessor at least twice a year to check their cask ales for temperature, appearance, aroma and taste.
Roger Clayson, National Account Manager at Cask Marque, said: “For the pub to pass, all the beers must reach the required standard… This is a great achievement by Arkell’s and each of its individual landlords and sets the standard for the pub estates of other breweries.”
One Arkell’s pub – The Mason’s Arms at Meysey Hampton, near Cirencester – was thought so good that Tom O’Rourke, Cask Marque assessor for Gloucestershire thinks it sets the standard for the whole country.
Head brewer, Alex Arkell, said: “This is a team effort between us at the brewery, our landlords to make sure that every pint they serve to customers is top quality and the Cask Marque team to give our landlords the final seal of approval. We’re thrilled that we’re leading the way.”
Exeter Food Festival welcomes fresh exhibitors
Exeter Festival of South West Food & Drink has announced new exhibitors for the 2017 festival. As part of its Fresh at the Festival initiative, they are welcoming eight local independent start-ups to the event that runs from Saturday 29th April to Monday 1st May 2017.
Those exhibitors are Barbican Botanist Gin, Creber’s Rock Apocryphal Cider, Ebb Tides (a edible seaweed specialist), Artisan Chocolate Company, Culmstock Chilli Co (who sell chilli plants), Maison Cheri (a wedding cake artist), Shillingford Organics (an online farm shop) and India in a Jar (who make curry food jars).
Michael Caines MBE, festival co-founder said, “The Festival is a fantastic event that brings together regional producers and chefs and celebrates the diverse produce we have on our doorsteps in the South West. Visitors can sample and purchase products from over 90 producers, watch chef demonstrations and get involved with hands-on activities for the whole family.”
National Pub and Beer Awards announce county winners
The National Pub & Bar Awards has selected 94 area finalists for the grand final, to be held on 24th May in London.
The awards are selected by organiser Pub & Bar magazine whose internal judging panel choose the winners based on “on all of the aspects required to provide ultimate hospitality within the on-trade.”
Here are the award winners in the South East and South West.
Berkshire – The Crown at Bray
Buckinghamshire – The Swan Inn, Milton Keynes Village
East Sussex – The Mark Cross Inn
Hampshire – The King’s Head
Isle of Wight – The Fighting Cocks
Kent – The Grove Ferry Inn
West Sussex – The Cat Inn
Oxfordshire – The Thatch
Surrey – The Swan Inn
Bristol – King Street Brewhouse
Cornwall – Port Gaverne Hotel
Devon – Samuel Jones Smoke & Ale House
Dorset – The Langton Arms
Gloucestershire – The Five Alls
Somerset – Victoria Pub & Kitchen
Wiltshire – Rose and Crown, Trowbridge
Lords of the Manor appoints new head chef
Michelin-starred hotel Lords of the Manor has announced Charles Smith as its new head chef. He joins them from Alyn Williams at the Westbury and replaces Richard Picard-Edwards, who moved to France after three years at the Gloucestershire hotel.
Smith has also worked at Petrus by Marcus Wareing and won the Craft Guild of Chefs’ Young National Chef of The Year competition.
FOOD & DRINK NEWS
The Tomato Stall grows new flavours
The Isle of Wight-based The Tomato Stall have announced new tomato varieties and new roasted tomato flavours.
The award-winning growers are making new additions to their heritage and speciality selection boxes with several new tomato varieties chosen for the colour and flavour they bring to the range. They have also launched new flavours of their slow roasted tomatoes – Chilli & Fennel and Garlic & Basil.
The Arreton nursery grows over 30 tomato varieties per year, trialling up to 200 seed types annually in search of the best flavours. In 2014 Isle of Wight Tomatoes became the only fresh tomatoes to have ever been given Great Taste Awards.
For more details go to www.thetomatostall.co.uk
The Farm Shop & Deli Show
“Experience the best quality local and regional produce from more than 450 outstanding suppliers over three days. Farm Shop & Deli Show will be packed with new launches, fresh industry insights and trendsetting food and drink.”
Toby Buckland’s Garden Festival
28th – 29th April
Powderham Castle, Devon
“A garden party like no other! Celebrate the wealth of independent growers and makers with our new ‘Devon Made’ expo. Visit the ‘Chill & Grill Yurt’ and the ‘Devon Bar’ run by Powderkeg Beer, prize-winning Woodbury and Devon brewery. This bar will sell only those drinks brewed, distilled and made within Devon county borders. So lots of beer and cider of course, but also Devon Dappa and Gin and Salcombe Gin.”
Exeter Festival of South West Food & Drink
29th April – 1st May
Exeter Castle Courtyard & Northernhay Gardens
“An established favourite for all foodies, the festival attracts an international audience with visitors attending from far and wide to buy delicious goodies, watch top chefs in the live Festival Cookery Theatre and get involved in workshops and demonstrations.”
2017 Dorset Food & Venison Festival
Post Green, Lytchett Minster, Poole BH16 6AP
“Celebrating the best of Dorset’s produce!”
Coeliac UK: Bournemouth & Poole Group – Food Fair 2017
Parkstone Grammar School, Poole, Dorset
“A great opportunity to try and buy a wide range of ‘Free From’ foods. Talk to local dieticians and representatives from Coeliac UK.”
For further details, please contact David Dorrell on Bournemouth@coeliac.org.uk
The Food & Drink Trade Show
3rd – 4th May
Three Counties Showground, Malvern
“A unique blend of inspirational speciality food & drink products, from a wide range of exhibitors; from the small and regional, to those who trade throughout the UK and internationally.”
Gin Festival Bournemouth 2017
5th – 7th May
Bournemouth Pavilion Theatre
“We’ll be serving up over 100 different gins (including many new and exclusive gins) plus, new brands, cocktails and masterclasses from industry experts!”
The Devon County Show
18th – 20th May
“The best of food, farming and entertainment. The Food & Drink Pavilion will be even bigger – and top chef Michael Caines will be cooking up some incredible dishes in our cookery demonstration theatre.”
Taste of the South
19th – 21st May
Poole Park, Dorset
“Taste of the South is a brand new festival in association with Poole Maritime Festival. A celebration of all things local from the South of England, it will include food, drink, produce, art, culture and entertainment. There will be exhibitions, tastings, samplings and demonstrations, to give visitors a taste of the South.”
Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org to enquire about exhibiting and sponsorship opportunities.
Tourism Management Institute Hot Topic 2017
Sheffield Hallam University
“The focus this year will be on Innovation in Rural Tourism – local food and drink, specialist events and characterful stays, with experts from the public and private sector sharing best practice.”
The London Wine Fair
22nd – 24th May
“The London Wine Fair is the largest event of its kind in the UK drinks industry, and one of the world’s leading wine trade events. 15,000 wine professionals will journey to London to be immersed in the world of wine, to sample across the continents and take part in the many tastings and masterclasses.”
Caffé Culture Show 2017
23rd – 24th May
“The nation’s leading gathering place for the café and coffee community, continuing to bring together all those who have a passion for pushing the industry forward.”
2nd – 4th June
City Centre Piazza, Plymouth
“The South West’s largest food and drink festival will see the Piazza transformed, with stalls brimming with local delicacies, live music and a marquee bar. With more than 100 traders showcasing the best regional produce – as well as cookery demonstrations from talented local and celebrity chefs – organisers are hoping to yet again attract more than 100,000 food lovers.”
6th – 7th June
“Commercial Kitchen is the definitive event for equipment buyers, specifiers and decision makers from across all sectors of the foodservice industry who are looking for the best equipment, services and accessories for their kitchen.”
Royal Cornwall Show
8th – 10th June
Royal Cornwall Showground, Wadebridge
“The county’s biggest annual event and is brim-full of exhibits and activities which offer so much in the way of entertainment, competition, information, shopping and all that’s best in food and farming.”
Bournemouth Food & Drink Festival 2017
16th – 25th June
The Square, Bournemouth
“The Bournemouth Food & Drink Festival is 10 whole days of delight for foodies. Enjoy good food, amazing cooking skills and fabulous entertainment!” Includes: Street Food Festival, Farmers & Producers Market and Demo Kitchens.
Bournemouth Vegan Fair
17th – 18th June
Bournemouth International Centre
“A weekend of indulgence, inspiration and information – with over 90 diverse stalls full of tempting treats, a wide range of talks, and plenty of delicious food.”
Bournemouth Business Expo 2017
22nd June, 10am-4pm
Bournemouth International Centre
“Bournemouth’s largest business show for all businesses who are looking to grow and prosper. Keynote speakers, seminars, speed networking and over 70 exhibitors.”
Hampshire Food Festival 2017
1st – 31st July, 2017
Various locations in Hampshire
“The Hampshire Food Festival is an opportunity to show people what is grown and made in the county and offer unique experiences. From walking with buffalo to distillery tours or watching demos from top local chefs, the festival offers something for all tastes.”